Let’s get to know fear a bit better, shall we? The more we get to know something, the easier we can recognize it. So, let’s start with good ole Merriam Webster’s definitions of FEAR:
While only four letters and one syllable, FEAR is a big word. As displayed by these definitions, there’s healthy fear – the reverent fear we should have for the Lord, or the defenses we have that keep us out of danger. And there’s an anxious, emotional fear – the fear that keeps us from enjoying something because we’re so afraid of some outcome on the horizon that’s likely not even feasible. I view this as the “good” fear and the “bad” fear. What if the latter didn’t exist? What might our lives look like if we did not have that type of fear? I can promise you it would feel a lot like freedom.
Friends, that “bad” fear is sneaky. We need to know how to quickly recognize it – in all its forms – so that we may be able to quickly discern and act on it. You see, this kind of fear has no place indwelling in us. Because fear takes on many forms, we need to know how to recognize it in order to combat it. We need to recognize it in all its disguises, and then we need to be armed to slay it.
As I said, fear is sneaky. Fear is the enemy’s way of getting in between where we are and where we need to go – often where God needs us to go. Fear is the enemy’s way of thinking that we have control over something when we’re actually just a slave to the fear of it. Fear wears many disguises. Here are just a few disguises I’ve been able to unveil over the years:
- Pride. Pride is a mask for fear.
- Self-Preservation and Greed. Self-Preservation and Greed are shields for fear.
- Control. Control is fear’s body armor.
- Doubt. Doubt is fear’s sword.
- Worry. Worry is fear’s camouflage.
These disguises come with handy companions of vindication. More often than not, they feel reasonable and justifiable when we experience them.
There are countless famous quotes about conquering fear… being brave… overcoming. In the end, I think we can boil it down to two words: choice and trust. We must make a choice that we are going to trust God, that when He commands us “…do not be afraid” and “fear not”, we can trust His promises.
There are countless times when I as a wife, parent, daughter, and friend, have let fearful outcomes creep into my head. Over the years, I’ve mastered the art of conjuring up a scary medical diagnosis, a tragic accident, what someone must be thinking of me (negative of course), …and the list goes on. And to what end? Does my worry truly control the situation? If I let go of it, will something bad happen? The answer is, only God knows. So why not give it over to the One who loves us and cares for us more than we can comprehend?
My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The world told us to start Googling everything we could learn about it, self-diagnose, look at all of the statistics, and starting worrying about worst-case scenarios. But God’s way was much different. Instead of spending time Googling, we spent time in prayer. Instead of worrying about worst-case scenarios, we laid hands on her and prayed healing over her. This is God’s way, and it brought much peace to overcome our fears!
When things start to slip out of our control and out of our grip, if we don’t allow God to step into the gap, fear will slide right in and grip us. And fear does not easily let go.
While there are countless resources to assist us in conquering fear, anxiety, and worry – there is none more perfect than our heavenly Father and His word. God’s word is powerful – a mighty sword against any disguise the enemy will throw our way. Let’s arm ourselves, shall, we?
Isaiah 43:1 – “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Psalm 34:4 – “I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”
Romans 8:15-16 – “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Matthew 6:25-27 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.”
Dear friends, the “bad” fear has no place in our lives. Fear is a terrible companion. As my husband recently pointed out, fear is also terrible decision-maker, as he reminded me about the time when God told him to stop living by fear and quit his job (that is another great story for another time). Fear does not have a seat at the decision table. Our trust in God and His Word, wise counsel, and remembering God’s goodness and His promises are all that should occupy the chairs.
Let’s invite God to the table. Please join me in prayer.
Lord, I praise You that You are the ultimate overcomer of fear. You have eternally overcome any fear or battle that I may face. Please help me to recognize fear when it creeps into any aspect of my life, and when it keeps me from experiencing all that You have for me. Please equip me to conquer it with Your Word and Your promises. I’m so grateful for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.